Both former Northwest HS students were shot in the head, Virginia health officials say

The Virginia Department of Health confirmed the two former Northwest High School students found murdered in Halifax County were both shot in the head on February 8th, but investigators offered little details Friday on what the possible motive could have been.

Several questions remain on why a young couple, who relocated to Northern Virginia from Montgomery County, Maryland, were found dead some 225 miles south of Alexandria, Virginia, where police arrested an 18-year-old T.C. Williams High School student athlete for their murders.

Virginia State Police announced the arrest on Thursday and confirmed 18-year-old Mohamed Aly was arrested on school grounds.  

“This situation was handled today according to protocol, and the safety and security of our students and staff were never at risk,” read part of a note sent to parents and students from T.C. Williams High School Principal Peter Balas.

FOX 5 was not able to reach suspect’s family on Friday. At the school, a football player who claimed to have played with the suspect for several years, described the suspect is a “good player” and a “good student.” He described the team as stunned by the news and mentioned a team meeting held on Friday.

Online, FOX 5 found several athlete profiles of the 18-year-old suspect and a twitter page, which showed the teen posting support for his fellow Titans. Mohamed Aly, a high school Defensive Back, also posted videos to promote himself.

A tweet from February 10th read, “Unsigned senior DB🚨🚨 Looking for a home🏡to showcase my motivation, dedication, and appreciation to the game❤️🏈 I love the hustle..❤️😤”

Two days before that tweet is when Virginia State Police say 19-year-old Ayanna Maertens Griffin and 21-year-old “Joel” Bianda, who both graduated from Northwest High School in Montgomery County, were found slain near a vehicle crash on Rt. 58 in Halifax County, near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

Griffin’s father, George Maertens, told FOX 5 on Friday, they haven’t been told any more than what information has been released in the news.

Maertens said he does not know Aly, nor does Bianda’s family.

Maertens spent Friday collecting his daughter’s items from where she was staying in Virginia. He also described an emotional visit to Griffin’s job, the Jimmy Johns on Fairfax Boulevard. Employees showed him a drawing she made of a character on a show they watched together called, “Gravity Falls.”

Maertens said they had a close relationship and tells FOX 5 his daughter was both “very vibrant,” smart and a “go-getter.” He had graduated high school early with plans to study computer science at Virginia Tech. Family tell FOX 5 she was currently enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College.

Aly is facing two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Virginia court records show he is due for a first court appearance in Halifax County, Virginia on Tuesday, February 19, 2020 at 11 a.m.

Alexandria City Public Schools denied an on-camera interview, citing the ongoing investigation.

Virginia State Police say the investigation is nowhere near over and are still asking with information on the two victims and suspect to contact them.

Viewing services for both victims are planned for February 21st. The funeral services will be March 7th.